Easy 4th of July Cake

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Add'l Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 40 mins

Get the fireworks ready because this easy 4th of July cake is so tasty and effortless! All you need are simple ingredients to make this easy and patriotic poke cake!

Make it the best Fourth of July ever with more classic American desserts: Sweet Potato Pie, my Mom’s famous Banana Pudding, and perfect Lemon Bars!

4th of July Cake on a white plate with sprinkles and fresh fruit.

4th Of July Cake

Independence Day is here and it’s time to celebrate! You all know how much I love sugary treats, which is why I can’t celebrate this holiday without a special dessert. My Easy 4th of July Cake is not only simple and delicious, but patriotic as well!

It’s the only dessert you need on this special occasion. Decorated with red and blue gelatin and white frosting, this sheet cake is totally on board for the celebrations. You can also make this cake for birthdays, anniversaries, or anytime you need a quick dessert recipe and switch the flavors of jello to match any theme. 

I want you to enjoy this special day, which is why this recipe is so easy. Both the cake and frosting can be prepared well ahead of time, meaning you’ll spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the beach, lake, fireworks, or barbecue instead!

Ingredients for poke cake in jars and glasses.

Easy Poke Cake Ingredients

I’ve made this recipe super easy for you. Using a boxed cake mix cuts the time in half and is great when you need a celebratory dessert in a pinch! 

Here’s what you need to make this easy 4th of July cake:

  • White Cake Mix
  • Eggs
  • Oil
  • Buttermilk
  • Cherry Jello
  • Berry Blue Jello
  • Water

Make sure the eggs have come down to room temperature before adding them to your cake mix. This will ensure your cake bakes evenly and has a proper rise!

You will also need the following ingredients if you want to add the perfect whipped frosting for on top:

  • Whipped Topping (Cool Whip) or Whipped Cream
  • Cream Cheese
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract

White cake batter in a stand mixer with eggs and vanilla.

How to Make An Easy Fourth of July Cake

We’ll start making this easy cake by baking the cake, adding the jello, then letting it cool overnight. I promise it will look so good by time you’re done! Your cake will be looking like our flag in a few easy steps.

Here’s how to make the 4th of July cake:

1. Prepare For Baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F and coat a 13×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. 

2. Make The Batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, eggs, water, and oil until smooth. Spread the batter evenly into your prepared baking dish, and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

White cake in a baking pan with red and blue jello in squeeze bottles.

3. Make The Red and Blue Jello: While the cake is cooling, combine 1/2 of the package (or 2 tablespoons) of red gelatin and a 1/2 cup of boiling water in a bowl. Stir together for 2 minutes until the gelatin powder has dissolved, then stir in 1/4 cup of cold water. Place in a squeeze bottle. Repeat the exact same steps with the blue gelatin. 

Poke cake with red and blue jello squeezed in the holes.

4. Prepare The Cake For The Jello: Using a wooden skewer or large fork, poke holes into the cake (about every 1/2 inch). Carefully pour the gelatin over the cake, alternating between blue and red to get a more striped appearance.

5. Let It Cool: Cover the cake with foil or saran wrap and store it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. 

Whipped frosting being made in a bowl with a spatula and cake in the background.

Here’s how to make the easy 4th of July cake whipped frosting:

  1. Beat Almost Everything Together: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth using a stand mixer or handheld mixer. Carefully add in the powdered sugar and vanilla, then beat until smooth.
  2. Add The Whipped Topping: Fold the whipped topping into the frosting using a spatula. Spread the finished frosting over the cooled cake.

If you’re not feeling an all-white cake or want to save time when decorating, try adding food coloring to the frosting! Separate two or three batches of frosting in small bowls. Add red food coloring to one, blue to another, and leave the rest white (if separating in thirds). Decorate the sheet cake as our flag, or use a pastry bag for piping fun and patriotic designs!

4th of July Cake on plates and in a baking pan with forks and fresh fruit.

Can I Make This Cake From Scratch?

Absolutely! Set the cake mix aside and bring in your bag of flour. Making a fourth of July cake from scratch is still very easy and only requires a few simple adjustments. 

Here’s how to make a plain vanilla cake from scratch:

  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 5 egg whites room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes with a hand mixer.
  4. Add in egg whites and mix on low until incorporated. Add in milk and vanilla extract. Mix until just combined.
  5. Add in all dry ingredients and stir by hand until well mixed.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 22-25 minutes. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Follow below directions for remainder of cake, starting with step #3. 

Do I Have To Use Gelatin?

The gelatin or jello in our fourth of July cake will add a pop of color and the necessary patriotic feel. It will also keep the final cake very moist! If you’re not a fan of jello, separate two small portions of the cake batter into bowls and add red food coloring to one, and blue food coloring to the other. Pour the colored batter over top of the white vanilla batter in the cake pan and run a toothpick through the mixture to make a fun (and patriotic) swirl pattern!

4th of July Cake slices on plates with fresh fruit.

Fourth Of July Cake Decorating Ideas

You can decorate this cake any way you like! I opted for simplistic and fun red and blue sprinkles. Fresh fruit with mint leaves would add a pop of flavor and make the cake look oh so elegant.

If you’re feeling adventurous, use a mixture of blueberries and sliced strawberries to replicate the stars and stripes across the top of the sheet cake! Here is a great example of how to make a flag cake decorations on top of a sheet cake!

How To Store

Cover the decorated cake with plastic wrap or foil and store in the fridge. The cake will stay moist and fresh for up to 2 days in the fridge. It may dry out a little if left any longer.

Make the frosting a day or 2 ahead of time if you need to save on time. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge until it’s time to decorate the cake. It may need a stir before use, or add it to a medium bowl and beat it quickly with a standing or handheld mixer.

You can also freeze the cake on its own! Wrap the completely cooled vanilla cake in plastic wrap, then foil, and add it to an airtight container. It will last in the freezer for up to 3 months.

4th of July Cake on a white plate with fresh fruit and a fork.

This cake is the perfect make ahead dessert for the 4th of July! You can make it up to a day ahead and then it stores wonderfully in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. Happy 4th, friends!! 

Yield: 12 servings

Easy 4th of July Cake

Two patriotic cake slices on plates with fresh fruit.

This festive and delicious 4th of July Poke Cake is super easy to make and extra moist with the addition of jello! This cake is guaranteed to disappear in seconds!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 box white cake mix

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 
1 cup buttermilk

  • 1 small box (3.4 oz) cherry gelatin - you will use ½ the package

  • 1 small box (3.4 oz) berry blue gelatin - you will use ½ the package

  • 1 cup boiling water, divided
  • 
1/2 cup cold water, divided


Frosting:

  • 1 (8 oz) container whipped topping, thawed

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Optional Toppings:

  • Sprinkles
  • Fresh fruit

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and coat a 13x9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together cake mix, eggs, water and oil, until smooth. Spread evenly into baking dish, bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
  3. While the cake is cooling, combine 1/2 of the package (about 2 tablespoons) red gelatin and 1/2 cup boiling water and stir about 2 minutes until dissolved, add 1/4 cup cold water and stir to combine. Place in a squeeze bottle.
  4. Repeat the exact same steps with the blue gelatin. Combine 1/2 of the package (about 2 tablespoons) blue gelatin and 1/2 cup boiling water and stir about 2 minutes until dissolved, add 1/4 cup cold water and stir to combine. Place in a squeeze bottle.
  5. Using a wooden skewer or large fork, poke holes into cake about every 1/2 inch. Carefully pour gelatin over the cake, alternating blue and red to get a more striped appearance.
  6. Cover cake with foil or saran wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  7. Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth using a stand mixer or hand mixer. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  8. Fold in whipped topping until well combined. Spread over cooled cake. Top with fruit or sprinkles as desired.
  9. Store in refrigerator, wrapped with foil or saran wrap, until ready to serve!

Notes

You can use any flavor of Jello to make this cake match any theme! Another personal favorite of ours is to use a mixture of strawberry and lemon jello!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12 servings

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 166Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 92mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 8gProtein: 4g

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Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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